Imagine a meeting where everyone was fully attentive to the topic at hand. Nobody is checking their phone under the table, nobody is thinking about their next meeting, nobody is dwelling on some other project or conversation. Imagine how much more efficient and effective that meeting might be if everyone was actually paying attention.
In the current age of busy-ness, where we are constantly dealing with a stream of interruptions and “emergencies”, bouncing through back-to-back meetings, and mentally dealing with multiple competing priorities and deadlines, it is difficult to reach our potential to lead with excellence.
Research into the impact of mindfulness training on the effectiveness of leadership is amassing, and the resulting evidence is significant. For example in one large study of leaders and their teams, leader mindfulness was positively related to job performance, employee engagement and job satisfaction.
What are some of the benefits of mindful leadership?
Focused Attention: Mindfulness gives the ability to filter through the multitude of competing demands, switch context skillfully, and apply deep, sustained focus where appropriate, enabling leaders to execute on the priorities that drive business outcomes.
Increased clarity: Clarity as a leader means seeing things as they truly are, rather than impulsively following your initial reaction to something. You become aware of how your expectations, judgements and reactions might be clouding the truth. Mindfulness develops ‘metacognition’, giving you the freedom to choose between automatic reactions and informed responses.
Powerful presence: Mindful presence requires full and complete non-judgemental attention to the present moment which leads to people feeling listened to and respected. Sadly, however, with multiple distractions competing for our attention, deep attentive listening is becoming more and more difficult.
Developing a sustained mindful practice, then applying this to the the way you lead is not always an easy road, and isn’t a silver bullet. However early evidence shows it is one approach to help leaders focus amid growing complexity, see beyond initial bias and judgement, and be powerfully present.